Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Revisiting a Basic Crocheted Sock

Almost ten years ago, I wrote a basic sock pattern that got published on the South Bay Crochet site and was also a free pattern at The Knitting Room in San Jose. The pattern below starts with that pattern and uses a much easier heel construction so the whole pattern is easier.


At the same time, as much as I like to crochet socks and wear the ones I make, I need to point out that crocheted socks are not the same as knitted socks -- they are not for everyone. Knitting makes a lightweight, elastic fabric; crochet makes a sturdy, textured fabric. This makes a difference in socks. In addition, wool (even machine washable wool) does shrink a bit. So if you crochet socks from traditional sock yarn (70-80% wool, and the rest is nylon), you may find that they shrink a bit after a few wearings. I have several pairs of socks that look fine, but they shrank just a little over time so they don’t fit any more. In response to this, I have changed my new favorite stitch for crocheting socks, which I address at the end of the pattern with a note on adjusting the pattern for this other stitch.

If you make these socks with yarn that does not shrink (a cotton/elastic blend is good, or acrylic), you will not run into the shrinking problem. Unfortunately, other fibers may not wear as well as the wool/nylon blend and may get holes in them more quickly in spots (like the heel and toe).

Materials:
fingering or sport weight yarn, 100 grams/size E hook, or size needed for gauge: 5.5 sts/inch in patt,
OR
DK or light worsted weight yarn, 100-200 grams/size G hook, or size needed for gauge: 4.5 sts/inch in patt,
OR
heavy worsted or bulky weight yarn, 200 grams/size I hook, or size needed for gauge: 3.5 sts/inch in patt.
The gauges given here are suggested gauges to give you a sense of scale.

Note: The amounts of yarn given are for ankle socks to fit medium adult feet. For knee socks, you will need up to twice as much yarn. Also, socks for smaller feet will use less yarn than socks for larger feet.

2 markers

Instructions are given for fingering weight yarn, with changes for sport and worsted in ().

For better fit, measure:
length of the foot from toe to heel: _____, and
the size around at the instep/arch: _____.

Abbreviations (American):
Ch: Chain stitch
Sc: Single crochet
Dc: Double crochet
Sl OR sl st: slip stitch
Inc: Increase
Patt: Pattern stitch (as defined)
Sk: skip
Coil: work in rounds, but do not finish it at the end of each round, just continue on.

Pattern Stitch (worked in a coil, over an odd number of stitches): *Sc1, dc1. Repeat from * around.

Toe Increase: (dc1, sc1, dc1) all in next stitch.

To Begin: Starting at the toe, ch 10 (8, 6). Working into the bottom bump of each stitch, slip stitch in the 3rd chain from the hook and in each chain across, making the last sl st into the first chain. This reinforces the chain row at the beginning, giving a little extra strength. From here on, insert hook under both top loops of each stitch, as usual in crochet.

Continue in a coil (right side facing): Ch1. Sc1 into the first chain. Dc1 in next stitch. Continue in pattern stitch to end of side, ending with sc1. Make a toe increase in the next stitch to turn corner. Place 1st marker in the middle sc of the increase. Continue in patt st to end of side, ending with dc1 in last slip st. Sc1 in the ch1 that started this round. Make a toe increase in the next sc. Place 2nd marker in the middle sc of the increase.

*Continue in patt to next marker. Inc. Move marker to middle sc of new inc just made.

Find your instep size on this chart, and repeat from * for a total of this many stitches:
Instep
size Total # of sts
5” 25 (19, 15) stitches around
6” 29 (23, 17)
7” 35 (27, 21)
8” 39 (31, 23)
9” 45 (35, 27)
10” 49 (39, 29)

Remove markers and set aside.

(If you are working the OTHER PATTERN STITCH -- see below -- start that stitch here.)

Continue in patt, without any more increases, until the piece measures about 2/3 the desired foot length. Lay the piece flat (even though you are working in the round, when you lay the piece with the starting toe edge flat, there will be two side edges/corners). Place a marker in the sc at each side corner. Continue in patt to first marker, ending with a dc in the marked stitch. Count how many stitches are between where you are and the next marker: _____ (Hint: this should be an odd number).

Afterthought Heel: This is an idea I first heard about from the knitter Elizabeth Zimmermann. She didn’t care much for crocheting, but that is ok. She still had a lot of great ideas.

Remove marker. Chain as many stitches as you counted.

Dc in the sc of the remaining marker. Remove that marker.

That is all for the heel right now. You will return to it later. Now, continue with the leg:

For a straight leg: Continue in patt in a coil until leg measures desired length (from the chain row that made the hole for the heel, about 2-3” for baby, 4-5” for child, or 6-7” for adult). After last stitch, finish off like this: Slip stitch in next 2 sts. Fasten off, tuck in loose ends. Make 2nd sock to match.

For a bit of character at the top edge: When the leg measures as long as you want, consider finishing the top edge with a little something. For an easy edge, (sc1, ch1) in each stitch around one time, then finish off.

Knee Sock Option (requires more yarn):
More measurements:
Calf at the biggest size around: _____
Length of leg from the floor to just under the knee (length of sock): _____

After making the heel opening, continue in patt for the ankle (1” for baby, 2” for child, 4” for adult size). Place marker in center back dc.

*Continue in patt to marked stitch. (sc1, ch1, sc1) all in marked st, to increase 2 stitches. Move marker to ch. Continue in patt for 2 more rounds with no increase. When you get to the ch in the next round, sc in it. Move marker to current stitch each time you make a stitch in the marked stitch.

Notice that if you increase in a dc, it takes 2 more rounds to have a dc in the same stitch again, so the increases are on a 3-round repeat.
Repeat from * until the sock measures desired size around. Note: It would be good if you ended with a total number of stitches close to a multiple of 6 if you want to make the Chevron Ribbing.
Continue in patt without any more increases until the sock measures desired length.

Chevron Ribbing for knee sock: End sock body with sc1. Work 1 round in shell stitch, like this: *Sk 2, 5dc in next st, sk 2, sc1 in next st. Repeat from * around one time. Since you aren’t starting with a multiple of 6 stitches, you will have to fudge a little, by skipping only 1 stitch instead of 2, just a few times. End with 1sc in first sc of round. Mark this sc.
Next round: *Sc1 in next 2 dc. (Sc1, ch1, sc1) all in next dc. Sc1 in next 2 dc. Skip next sc. Repeat from * around once.
Next round: *Sc1 in next 2 sc. (Sc1, ch1, sc1) all in next ch1 space. Sc1 in next 2 sc. Skip next 2 sc. Repeat from * around for a total of 6 rounds, or desired length of cuff. Slip stitch in next 2 sts. Fasten off.

Now, back to the Heel:
This is a mirror image of the toe shaping: DEcreasing at each side a lot like how you INcreased at the beginning of the toe.

Setup round: With the right side of the fabric facing, rejoin the yarn with a slip stitch in the side of the last dc before the chain stitches you made for the heel opening. Starting with sc in the next st, continue in pattern across the last row of the foot to the other side of the hole, ending with a sc in the last dc. Dc in the side of the next dc to turn so you can continue around. Place marker on this dc just made. Working into the spare loop on the underside of all those chain stitches, establish the pattern stitch along the bottom of the leg edge, ending up with a sc in the last chain. Notice how many stitches there are on each side: _____.

Set up one decrease point: Yarnover, draw up a loop in side of the dc you joined the yarn in. Yarnover, draw through 2 loops (2 loops remain on hook). Yarnover, draw up a loop in next sc, Yarnover, pull through 2 loops (3 loops remain on hook). Yarnover, pull through all 3 loops to decrease 1 stitch. Put marker on this stitch to mark one decrease point.

**Continue in patt to stitch before next marker.
Heel Decrease: (Yarnover, insert hook in next stitch, yarn over, draw up a loop, yarn over, pull through 2 loops) 3 times. Yarnover, pull through all 4 loops to decrease 2 stitches. The middle part of this decrease should be the marked stitch. Move marker to decrease just made.
Repeat from ** until only about 2/3 of the stitches have been decreased, and only 1/3 are left.
Fasten off, allowing a tail about 5 inches long to sew a seam. And that is the heel
Tuck in loose ends. Make 2nd sock to match.

About that other pattern stitch:
Start the sock as usual.
(The bit about reinforcing the starting chain is not absolutely necessary. I usually start with Foundation stitches, making a row about 1/6 as long as I want around. That means that for a sock 9-inch around, I make a foundation row that is about 1-1/2inches long, ending with a starting toe increase. If this is confusing, skip it.)

When the toe is the right size (the same instructions as before), switch to a ch-2 net stitch: Ending with a sc in a dc, (ch2, skip the next sc, sc in the next dc) around. From here on, (ch2, sc in next ch-2 space) around. That is the pattern stitch. This makes a slightly lacy fabric that has some ’give’ either long or wide, as needed. The over-all sock will have a baggier look, but I think it fits better over time.

To make the heel opening, chain and skip the same number of stitches. To set up the pattern stitch for the leg, work (sc, ch 2, skip 2) across the chain stitches.

Yes, you are replacing each dc with two ch sts. So where the pattern refers to a DC, read ‘ch-2 space.’

When you come back to make the heel, treat each ch-2 as one stitch. Work the heel in the sc/dc pattern stitch because it is sturdy, just like the toe. That means, to set up the heel, do (sc, dc) in each ch-2 space, and just skip the sc's.

4 comments:

Spoons n Stitches said...

Hi Mary! What a timely post! I'll have to try this. I have been working on your original sock pattern, posted in South Bay Crochet. After the heel shaping, I noticed I had a ton of extra stitches. Did I do it wrong? The ankle part is far too loose and am wondering if I should frog the heel or if I can decrease the stitches post-heel. Thanks!

Practical Crocheter said...

Don't know what you did -- you should end up with the same number of stitches after the heel as you had before....

It might be much easier to frog that heel and do the afterthought heel in this version. If you compare the two patterns, you will see they are a lot alike.

Thanks! and good luck!

MacBee said...

I'm starting this pattern and looking forward to it. I have one question: For the instep size, is that for the length of the instep before you work the heel, or the circumference of the foot?

Thanks much.

Practical Crocheter said...

Hello MacBee,
The toe shaping is like a triangle, starting at the point. Keep growing it until it is as big around as you want the foot to be. For example, my foot is 9" around, so when I lay flat the toe, it measures just about 4.5" across.
Hope this helps!